JOHANNESBURG — Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe told a Chinese TV interviewer that he resents Western international aid because it always depends on conditions such as accepting homosexuality.
Ahead of his return to Harare from a visit to China, Mugabe — who is not known for his liberal attitudes towards Africa’s gay and lesbian community — praised Beijing for being “very constructive” in its assistance towards Zimbabwe.
“Europe and America, when they give little funding assistance to countries, always attach conditions,” he said. “And that is our objection.”
Mugabe, who once threatened to deport any diplomat who discussed gay rights issues, added that the West always wanted African leaders to “embrace homosexuality”.
One of his last homophobic rants came in February at the wedding of his daughter Bona. He reportedly told guests: “We don’t accept homosexuality here. God made men and women so they can bear children.”
Mugabe recently said that Zimbabwe would not allow any gay diplomats into Harare and regularly refers to gay people as “pigs” and “dogs”.
The Zimbabwean leader went to China to try and bail out his country’s bankrupt economy.
He returned home without any cash or even soft loans, but signed a handful of expensive deals to support ongoing infrastructural repairs and power generation as well as a pledge for a new coal mine.
During his TV interview, Mugabe told viewers that China went into African projects using joint ventures whereas European businesses would not share their profits.
“They think Africa is their God-given territory because once upon a time they oppressed us. They had colonies in Africa. They had shared Africa like a cake — this part belongs to the British, that part to the Belgians and that other part to the French, the Germans. There was that scramble for Africa. Not so with the Chinese.”
At the end of last year, Mugabe’s Zanu PF party unveiled a five-year economic blueprint to create more than two million new jobs with investments of up to £16 billion.
Details of the latest Chinese financial agreements are secret and analysts in Harare say Mugabe must allow Parliament to scrutinise what he signed off with President Xi Jinping in Beijing last week.
“These will be the most expensive deals ever,” said economist John Robertson in Harare.
Another, who asked not to be named, added: “We will be paying double for all of this so-called investment as Chinese insurers rate Zimbabwe as high risk, in the ‘E’ category, even worse than Sudan.”